In the race for the 5th Legislative District Position 2 House seat, this is the time for a shake-up.
Chad Magendanz, who is challenging the incumbent, is a moderate Republican, who is pro-abortion rights, environmentally conscious and steeped in the challenges of Washington state’s constitutional paramount duty: education.
He held a district House seat from 2013-2017, ceding it to run unsuccessfully against incumbent state Sen. Mark Mullet. That was a shame. The Times editorial board had enthusiastically endorsed Magendanz for his two previous House runs but stuck with Mullet.
In the House, Magendanz was a smart leader with moderate sensibilities. Former president of the Issaquah School Board, he was ranking member of the House Education committee. He helped negotiate the Legislature’s solution to satisfy the state Supreme Court’s declaration that the state’s financing of K-12 education was unconstitutional.
In an interview, Magendanz concedes that the McCleary solution needs more work to ensure equity across the state. “I’m afraid we’re heading toward a McCleary II.”
Magendanz is right when he says the Legislature whiffed when it left special education out of the reforms. That omission has been left to fester as districts struggle to pay for special education services — something Magendanz says must be fixed.
Since he left the Legislature, the former Microsoft manager and Navy veteran has been teaching high school computer science.
The incumbent Rep. Lisa Callan, a Democrat, is also a former Issaquah School Board member, running for her third term. She’s smart, but, in an interview, rather than speaking about specific plans she wanted to implement, she defaulted to her systems-analysis bent to talk about how she would go about making the decision. That came off more like admiring the problem than solving it.
Nevertheless, she is a co-chair of the Children & Youth Behavioral Health Group, which makes recommendations to the Legislature to improve behavioral health services and strategies for young people and their families.
Clearly a skeptic of Washington state’s public charter schools, Callan seemed to forget that they were public schools when she cited them in the importance of requiring lead monitoring in private schools. When challenged, she conceded charters were covered by the public school law.
Additionally, Callan is a reliable vote for the House Democratic caucus, unable to cite examples of where she disagreed with her leadership. On the other hand, did we mention that Magendanz is pro-abortion rights?
Magendanz’s experience and grasp of the issues remains sharp and forward-looking. His proven record of independent thinking, working across the aisle, and well respected work on the McCleary bill put him in the best position to make needed reforms to truly bring equity to all Washington schools.